World War Two mystery solved

It's been a harrowing time for Susan Pearson and her family, never knowing what happened to her uncle who disappeared during World War Two.

But now the family can lay Sergeant Melville Beckman Tyrrell's memory to rest.

Earlier this month, the Royal Australian Air Force recovered a Catalina A24-50 in West Papua which was carrying 10 Australian airmen, 76 years after the aircraft failed to return from a wartime mission.

Mrs Pearson, from Yellow Rock, said it had been an awful period for her family of never knowing what happened to her uncle Micky.

"It's a big relief to our family. Most likely they died on impact, it's unlikely anyone survived and that's better than being captured," Mrs Pearson said.

"When we got the phone call we were just absolutely shocked, we couldn't believe it. The whole family was overwhelmed. I was on a cruise at the time in England and wanted to get home. I cried for days."

Mick grew up in Townsville, Queensland, and was sent to various RAAF bases for training, including at Richmond.

Mrs Pearson's mum Maud Hebert who lived in Springwood for the last six of her 91 years, used to dream she'd run into her brother Mick, two years older than herself, in the "Telstra park" in Springwood's main street.

It's a big relief to our family. Most likely they died on impact.

Susan Pearson

"She would dream she would see him sitting there," Mrs Pearson said.

The remains of the aircraft were discovered on a small mountain in dense jungle by a logger last year, but it's taken more than a year to cut a track into the area so the crash site can be accessed by vehicle.

"I'm hoping that there is DNA still there after 76 years," Mrs Pearson said. "I'm hoping that something is found so those wonderful fellows can have a burial."

Sgt Tyrell was an armourer, putting bullets in the machine to fire, and also a gunner, sitting in the back of the aircraft.

The airmen were reported missing on September 2, 1943 while on a sea mining operation to Sorong in occupied Dutch New Guinea.

Sgt Tyrell was just 21 years old when he went missing and he had begged his father Joseph to allow him to be part of the airforce.

Mrs Pearson says her grandfather regretted signing the papers enabling his son to serve, for the rest of his life. "He never forgave himself," she said.

Micky's picture had always hung on the wall in their family home.

"Mum said he was such a wonderful brother. He brought them gifts and they wrote letters all the time to him," Mrs Pearson said.

Mrs Pearson laid a wreath and wore duplicates of her uncle's war medals - the 1939-45 Star, Pacific Star, British War Medal and Australian War Medal 1939-45 - at a service in Springwood on August 15 commemorating the Victory in the Pacific. She will also attend a Last Post ceremony for her uncle at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra on September 2.

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